Why Do Cats Disappear For Days At a Time?

Why Do Cats Disappear For Days At A Time

Keeping your cat indoors most of the time has its advantages but some quality time outdoors also has its perks. However, it comes with considerable risks including that your cat may wander off for days.

Why do cats disappear for days at a time?

Cats disappear for days at a time because they are inquisitive animals and it is natural for them to hunt, explore and check out anything that piques their interest. This indicates that your cat is a smart, healthy and active feline.  But, these traits sometimes get them into deep trouble such as disappearing and getting separated from their owners.

Here are the common reasons why cats disappear for days at a time:

1. Your tomcat is in heat and may have pursued a female cat. 

Intact male cats may go missing for days at a time because they may have caught the scent of a female cat that is ready to mate.  Just like with other animals, cats have strong instincts that they need to pursue. Indoor cats may find a way to escape while cats with access to the outdoors may wander off to unfamiliar areas to pursue a female cat. Similarly, intact female cats may also escape and find a male cat when they are in heat.

Here are the advantages of spaying or neutering cats: 

  • it prevents uterine infection and breast cancer among female cats
  • it prevents testicular cancer among male cats
  • to avoid unwanted litters
  • they won’t go into heat 
  • they are less likely to spray or urine mark
  • male cats will not roam or wander off and are more behaved
  • it is good for the community and helps fight cat overpopulation
  • it is cost-effective for pet owners compared to the cost of caring for kittens 

2. Your cat chased a rodent, insect or another cat and got distracted.

This usually happens when they go about chasing rodents, insects or other cats and dogs. Cats have great reflexes that allow them to leap and jump high or run quickly, as fast as 30 mph! The downside is, since cats get too distracted they may find themselves in a strange area and they may not find their way back home. 

3. There may have been changes in your home. 

Cats, like humans, may also feel unwanted, stressed or depressed. This usually happens if there are changes in the household. It could be a home remodeling and it is just too noisy for your cat or there may be a new baby or pet dog that everyone is fussing over.  Your cat may opt to find a new wander due to feeling uncomfortable due to the change. 

4. She was chased away by another cat or dog.

Another reason why your cat may disappear for days at a time was that she was chased by another cat or dog while on one of her outdoor strolls.  

5. Your cat got injured or trapped while hunting for prey. 

Cats love to hunt because it is their nature but doing so carries the risk of injury. They may fall from a broken tree branch while pursuing a rodent or may have fallen into a deep pit. If this happens, your cat may be trapped or seriously injured, preventing her from returning home. 

6. Someone saw her wandering and brought her to a local shelter.

Sometimes, people are the culprit of why your cat disappears for days. Your cat may just have taken a stroll in your front yard and a passing lady may have mistaken her for a stray, picked her up and brought her to a local pet shelter. 

How to prevent your cat from disappearing or wandering off?

Here are some steps to help prevent your cat from disappearing for days at a time:

  • Have your cat neutered or spayed as early as when he/she is around four or five months old to prevent him/her from going in heat.
  • Place a good-quality cat tracker on your cat so you can easily determine where she is.
  • Have your cat microchipped and install a cat-flap that syncs with the microchip along with a designated curfew time.
  • Invest in an enclosed catio or a cat enclosure so your cat can still enjoy the outdoors without wandering off too far.  
  • Provide a comfortable home environment for your cat. 
  • Stimulate your cat’s hunting instincts through regular playtime and providing her with toys.
  • Make sure that your cat has an established and reliable routine.
  • Establish good relations with your neighbors as they will tend to be more cooperative and helpful should your cat go missing.

What to do when your lost cat returns home?

Your cat has disappeared for two days already and you are at your wits’ end where to find her.  But, she suddenly shows up at the front porch looking disheveled, hungry and a bit disoriented. Check our earlier article on what to do when your lost cat returns home for some tips. 


Just as cats enjoy the company of their humans, they also yearn for outdoor activity and playtime. Cats may disappear for days at a time because they may have chased a rodent or another cat and wandered to an unfamiliar area.  They may also go missing in action if they are in heat and pursuing their damsels. Take precautionary measures by placing a tracker on your cat, having her microchipped and by providing a comfortable home environment. 

Image: istockphoto.com / Nils Jacobi